top of page

Why was the Hedia locomotive toppled?

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

For several decades the Krauss 0-6-0T at Hedia Station in Saudi Arabia stood upright on a short siding to the east of the depot. Abandoned when the Hejazi section of the railway fell into disuse in 1925, the German-built locomotive was toppled from the track at some time in the 1980s. The common explanation, circulating among the expatriate community and more recently on social media, is that it was overturned by the local Bedouin in order to obtain wooden sleepers for firewood. However, an old photo of the locomotive clearly shows that metal sleepers, not wooden ones, were used in the construction of this section of track.

Krauss locomotive at Hedia Station on the Hejaz Railway in Saudi Arabia
The German-built Krauss 0-6-0T was overturned in the 1980s

Krauss locomotive at Hedia (Hadiyah) Station on the Hejaz Railway in Saudi Arabia
The train at Hedia Station with the locomotive lying on its side

During the initial part of the 8-year construction project, wooden sleepers had been preferred, as they could be supplied from the Ottoman Empire's own forests in Anatolia, Macedonia and Syria. However, as the railway moved southwards, they were found to be unsuitable for the hotter temperatures, with the wood shrinking and splitting, causing the rails to work loose. This resulted in trains rolling heavily as they passed over the unstable track. In southern Jordan and the Hejazi sector therefore, steel sleepers were more commonly used, spaced 14 to a rail.


Krauss locomotive at Hedia Station on the Hejaz Railway in Saudi Arabia
The train was left on a siding in 1925 when the southern part of the line became defunct

As well as the locomotive, there are the remains of two covered wagons, a tender and the base frames of four further wagons on the siding. The Krauss 0-6-0T was the original workhorse of the Hejaz Railway. In the early years of the building project, twelve were acquired. They were used to bring workers, rails, sleepers, building material and general provisions to the teams at the railhead.

Train with Krauss locomotive at Hedia Station in Saudi Arabia
The Hedia Train with the station buildings in the background

Considering the considerable concerted effort that would have been required to overturn such a large item of rolling stock, one would imagine that it was not done for 'fun'. However, with the firewood theory discounted, for the time being it must remain a mystery as to why the locomotive was pushed over on its side.


Krauss locomotive at Hedia Station in Saudi Arabia
Early photo of the Krauss 0-6-0T locomotive standing upright on the track at Hedia. The sleepers used in the construction of the siding were clearly made of metal and not wood

Read more about the Krauss 0-6-0T at Hedia Station in the Hejaz Railway Route Guide.

60 views0 comments
bottom of page